Iraqi Christians plead for help from White House
(WorldnetDaily) Faced with growing repression by Muslims, Christians from an ancient tradition in Iraq are calling on American political leaders for help before their entire community is extinguished.
Christian Assyrians and some of their supporters demonstrated in front of the White House yesterday, highlighting an alarming trend reported by the U.N.: While representing just 5 percent of the Iraqi population, 40 percent of the refugees fleeing the country are Assyrians.
One of the speakers at the rally, Nina Shea of Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom in D.C., told WND that because of the “ethnic cleansing,” the Christians want an autonomous district in Iraq they can administrate.
The zone, called the Nineveh Plains Administrative Unit, would allow Assyrians and other Christians to practice their faith, speak and teach their language, and work their land without fear of persecution.
Unlike the Sunnis and Shiites, the Christians have no militia and are completely defenseless, Shea said.
“They need to administrate their own governmental unit to protect themselves,” she said. “Otherwise, with the chaos and violence and persecution targeting Christians for religious reasons, which the U.N. has documented, they will disappear.
Shea insisted it’s in the interest of the U.S. to take a stand.
With the loss of the highly educated and skilled Christians, she argued, Iraq is “experiencing a brain drain as well as sane drain a force of moderation and a bridge to the West.”
“They have served the U.S. in Iraq nobly, and they will leave a real vacuum,” said Shea.
While the Christians in Iraq have been repressed for decades, Shea pointed out, they have suffered more since the war began, with kidnappings, crucifixions and dozen of churches bombed by jihadist terror.
Among the atrocities documented this year:
- Father Paulos Eskandar, of Mor Afrem Syriac Orthodox Church, was kidnapped Oct. 9 by Muslims and decapitated two days later. He was murdered despite Christians fulfilled a demand to post a text on the church doors condemning the pope’s statement about Islam.
- On Oct. 4, a car bomb detonated in a Christian area and killed nine people, including Georges Zara, member of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac National Council.
- A 14-year-old boy was crucified and stabbed in the stomach, mimicking what was done to Jesus, in Albasra.
- On Oct. 21, in Baquba, a group of veiled Muslims attacked a workplace where a 14-year-old boy named Ayad Tariq worked. The men asked the boy for his identity card. After seeing he was Christian the men asked whether he was a “dirty Christian sinner.” Ayad answered: “Yes, I am Christian, but I am not a sinner.” The rebels yelled he was a dirty Christian sinner and continued to grab him and to scream, “Allahu, Akbar! Allahu, Akbar!” The boy then was decapitated.
- In August, 13 Assyrian Christian women in Baghdad were kidnapped and murdered.
- In January, churches were bombed in Basra and Baghdad .
Shea noted that the Kurds, who control the north, have been denying the Christian Assyrians many of the benefits that have come from U.S. largesse.
The electric grids created by the U.S. , for example, are left to the discretion of local governments to distribute and manage, and the Christians say they aren’t getting their fair share. They cite instances of Kurdish villages receiving electricity while neighboring Christian villages are denied service.
Shea said she has been raising the plight of the Iraqi Christians with the U.S. government for several years, including in a face-to-face meeting with President Bush in her role as a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
She has not received a positive response.
“One of the issues here is that the Christians don’t create trouble, they are just victims,” she said. “They don’t blow up things, so they don’t get attention.
Some have told her the U.S. government doesn’t want to establish a precedent of favoritism, by responding to special pleadings.
But Shea argues, “It’s not favoring one group to make sure they get their fair share of U.S. construction aid.